WE WAITED FOR THE CALL DOWNTOWN, BACK AT OUR FAVORITE
coffee shop, sitting on our musty couch, shoulders touching. It should have felt wonderful.
"What's bumming you out?"
I looked down at my purple hands. "Hillary being right. I should have told someone about the shampoo last night after I found out it was dye. The whole party was a trap, and we just let everybody walk into it."
Jen leaned her weight into me comfortingly. "Come on. We were too busy not getting caught. And I mean really caught, not dyed purple or photographed behaving badly. Didn't you have to run for your life?"
"Yeah, twice in one day. But I still wish I'd said something to Hillary."
"You feel guilty about Hillary's purple head? News update, Hunter: She'll live. We went to that party to investigate a kidnapping, not rescue a bunch of spoiled rich kids."
I pulled away to get a better look at the smirk just visible on Jen's lips. "You like these guys, don't you?" I said. "The anti-client."
"Well, I wouldn't say I like them." She leaned back into the musty couch and sighed. "I think they're probably dangerous, and I'm worried about Mandy. And I definitely don't want to get caught by them."
"But I do like their style," she said, then smiled. "Don't you?"
I opened my mouth, then closed it. It was true: the anti-client did have style. They were cool, and they were using cool in a strange new way. I'd spent years studying how Innovators changed the world, and the process was always indirect, suggestive, filtered through cool hunters and Trendsetters and ultimately giant companies while the Innovators remained invisible. As in an epidemic, Patient Zero was always the hardest guy to find. So there was something fascinating about an Innovator taking direct action. The anti-client was shooting advertisements, taking over launch parties, creating their own weird marketing campaign.
I wanted to see what they would do next.
"Maybe," I admitted. "But what do you think they want?"
"In the long run?" Jen sipped some coffee. "I think you were right about the cobblestones."
"The anti-client wants to throw rocks?"
"No. Well, maybe a few, now and then. But I think mostly they want to loosen the mortar, the glue that holds the street down."
I frowned; this line of thinking was bringing on a paka-paka headache. "Could you maybe unmix this metaphor a little?"
Jen took my hand. "You know what glue I mean. The stuff that controls how everyone thinks, how they see the world."
"Not just advertising, but the whole system: marketing categories, tribal boundaries, all the formations that people get trapped in. Or locked out of."
I shook my head. "I don't know. Issue zero of Hoi Aristoi takes on a pretty easy target. And I mean, what are they saying? Rich, spoiled kids are laughable? Not exactly a revolutionary concept."
"So you're going to tell Hillary Hyphen about what you saw at Movable Hype? With her connections, she could probably stop the whole thing before it ever hits a printing press."
I laughed. "Hell, no."
"Exactly. Because you want to see it get mailed out. You want to see what happens. Everyone who gets their hands on a copy will devour every page, even the unlucky people in those pictures. Because it's information from outside the system. And we're all starving for it."
"But what good does it do?" I asked.
"Like I said, it loosens the mortar that holds the cobblestones down."
"So they can throw more rocks?"
"No, Hunter. Don't you get it? The anti-client doesn't just want to throw rocks. They want the whole street to come up. They want to make it so everyone starts throwing rocks."